By Steve Williams
The East Knoxville Athletic Association Runners’ 10U Minor Pee Wee football team was ready right from the start – on offense and defense – in its AFC division championship game against Carter.
On their first offensive play of the game, running back Marquis Billingsley bounced around the right side of the line for a 19-yard gain.
When the Runners went on defense for the first time, Marshawn Bowers tripped up Hornets tailback Elijah Cannon in the backfield for a 3-yard loss.
Both plays were a sign of good things to come for the Runners, who went on to defeat Carter 19-6 in Knox Metro Youth Football League championship play on Tuesday night (Oct. 27) at John Tarleton Park.
“We just came out hitting,” said EKAA head coach Terry “Pops” Holloway, “and we didn’t leave anything on the table. They (the players) were just ready. That was the only team we had lost to all season. We were ready.”
Carter, which went 7-0 in regular season league play, had defeated EKAA 6-0 on Sept. 22.
“We had played EKAA a couple of times – once last season and once this year – and it had been good games both times. Tonight they were just the best team,” said Carter head coach Bobby Stanton.
“We knew coming in we had to play our best game and we didn’t and they did. All the credit goes to them.
“We had a great year and I have a good team too, but tonight they were the best.”
On its opening possession, EKAA had third-and-one at the Carter 12, but Cannon, playing defensive end for Carter, slung down a ball carrier for a 5-yard loss to make it fourth down.
The Runners came back with an end-around play and Almarion Greer raced 17 yards for a touchdown. On the extra-point try, Leshaud Hollway dropped the ball on the snap but picked it up, ran right, found a hole and scored to make it 7-0.
Carter’s Jaylon Harmon had a tackle for a 3-yard loss to help stop EKAA’s next possession and force a punt. Braylon Harmon, Jaylon’s twin brother, returned the punt 60 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. The extra-point run was stopped short, leaving the Hornets behind 7-6.
Later in the second quarter, Denaro Watts, EKAA’s quarterback, completed a pass to the Carter 10-yard line, but the play was nullified by a penalty.
Bowers intercepted a long pass by Carter in the final minute of the first half.
The Hornets got the ball to start the second half but failed to move the chains.
EKAA struck quickly as Greer again scored on an end-around play, this one covering 52 yards, to increase its lead to 13-6.
A fourth-down hit by linebacker Billingsley early in the fourth quarter stopped the Hornets again.
EKAA looked for more points as Daquan Hardaman caught a 26-yard pass from Watts for a first down at the Carter 30.
An illegal formation foul erased a 21-yard pass play – Watts to Bowers – to the 3-yard line, but the Runners scored on the next play anyway as Aamari Hartsfield sprinted 29 yards around the right side with 2:21 remaining.
Defensive leaders in the game for EKAA, according to Coach Holloway, were Hartsfield, Billingsley, Holloway and Watts.
Jaylon Harmon and Kash Altom stood out defensively for Carter, said Coach Stanton.
FALCONS SOAR: Three KMYL titles went to the Falcons’ program last week.
The Falcons shut out Central 13-0 in the 8U Hopper AFC division. Both teams were 6-0-1 in the regular season, having tied each other 6-6.
The Falcons’ undefeated 9U Cutter AFC team defeated Powell 19-0 in its closest game of the season.
The Falcons’ 9U Cutter NFC squad turned the tables on Central, notching a 13-6 victory, after Central had beaten the Falcons by the exact same score en route to an 8-0 regular season record.
WACKY DIVISION: Powell went 7-0 in the 12U Junior Varsity NFC division but was upset by Karns (3-4) 26-25 in the semifinals. Bearden also surprised No. 2 seed Gibbs 22-0 in the semis.
In the finals, Bearden, the No. 3 seed, came out on top with an 8-6 win over No. 5 seed Karns.
OTHER GAMES: No. 3 seed Farragut upset No. 1 seed Central 8-0 in the 12U Junior Varsity AFC division finals. Farragut had lost to Central 22-6 in the regular season.
Hardin Valley rolled to a 32-0 win over Halls in the 11U Pee Wee NFC title game. Both teams were 6-0-1 but did not play each other in regular season.
Six more championship games will be played this week on Monday and Thursday night.